Published: 12:00, 05 January 2017
| Updated: 12:14, 05 January 2017
A woman has been locked up after she tried to blackmail a police officer she met on a dating website by suggesting he wanted to rape her.
Nightclub waitress Georgia Harris recorded the 22-year-old man as she put a “hypothetical” scenario to him about such a sex attack.
She then sent him a “doctored” video clip of part of the conversation with him saying “I would rape you” and her replying “I don’t want you to rape me.”
Harris, then 18, told the Metropolitan Police officer from the Sevenoaks area to pay £200 - later increased to £250 - into her account or she would go to the police with it.
Sentencing her to eight months youth custody, a judge said the case was serious because of the “premeditated, determined and persistent” nature of the offence.
“It is well understood for good reason that blackmail offences are to be treated very seriously indeed in terms of penalty,” he added.
“Blackmail is a nasty offence, and it is one where deterrence is very much in consideration when deciding whether there should be immediate custody.”
Maidstone Crown Court heard contact between the two on a dating site started in December 2015. He took her out for a meal but there was no more contact until March last year when she texted him.
“She would ask if she could stay at his house,” said prosecutor Peter Forbes. “He avoided that. He began to receive texts, to which he didn’t respond.”
Harris told him: “Why are you doing this? I know where you live. I am going to come to your house.” He did not know why her tone was changing.
He took her out for dinner again and bought her clothes and lent her £250.
Harris, now 20, then recorded a “contrived” hypothetical conversation in his car, asking: “What would you do if I told you I was a 15-year-old?”
"Blackmail is a nasty offence, and it is one where deterrence is very much in consideration when deciding whether there should be immediate custody" - Judge Jeremy Carey
The man, who cannot be identified, asked her why she would say that.
Claiming she was 17, she said: “If you were to force me to have sex with you what would that be?”
He replied: “I would be raping you.” He explained why that would be the case. He was confused by the conversation, said Mr Forbes.
They later argued and the officer felt he was being taken for a mug. He told her not to contact him again, but he received abusive texts from her.
She told him: “You said you were going to rape me and said you didn’t care. I was young.” He received the video clip lasting six to eight seconds.
Mr Forbes said it was cropped to make it appear the man was saying “I would be raping you” and her responding “I don’t want you to rape me”.
“He became panicked and alarmed over the texts and messages,” said Mr Forbes.
They spoke on the phone and Harris made the blackmail demand. She texted him with her bank details to transfer the money.
After speaking to colleagues and a senior officer he texted her: “I won’t be accepting your blackmail. I have spoken to my boss. I want no further contact.”
He reported it to police in Essex, where she lived, and she was arrested. She wrote a letter to the victim “sincerely apologising” for her behaviour.
“I am not trying to excuse my actions,” she wrote. “I would appreciate it if you tried to understand. I was in a very bad place, and had been for a few years.”
Harris, of Rookes Crescent, Chelmsford, had suffered from depression and anxiety after having a miscarriage at the age of 17.
She told him: “I was not in my right mind. After all, who would blackmail a police officer? I am sorry I put you through this. Looking back, I can’t believe I did something like that.”
Harris, who works at Faces nightclub in Chelmsford, told a probation officer she had a drink problem that was now under control.
The victim told in a statement of feeling he had been “trapped in a corner” and used for money. “I am extremely disturbed by this incident,” he added.
Ed Duncan-Smith, defending, said Harris, who admitted blackmail, had not intended the matter to go as far as it did.
“It snowballed,” he said. “She now realises how unacceptable it was. She expresses a high level of shame for her behaviour.
“She has had a wake up call and taken control of her life. She is having therapy. Her ambition is to be an air hostess. She is remorseful for this very sorry episode.”
Judge Jeremy Carey told Harris: “You knew he was vulnerable because of his position as a serving police officer.
“Use of this material would have resulted, had it gone any further, in at least suspension and an investigation. So it is, this case is particularly serious.
“You are still very young. The very difficult decision this court has to make is whether your offending is so serious that immediate custody, albeit for a relatively short period, is justified.
“Prison is the absolute last resort and should not be triggered unless there is really no alternative.”
More by this authorKeith Hunt